Sunday, January 29, 2012

which type of baby carrier is best?

I wrote about the reasons I like to carry my babies back in November but there's so much more to write about. Most people go to register for baby stuff and see the baby carriers and know they'd like one, just don't know what they'd like or how they'd use it.

Here's some questions to consider before purchasing a carrier: Will you use the carrier primarily at home or while you're out as well? Do you plan on using the carrier for a newborn only or will you use it into toddlerhood and beyond? Will mom and dad (and maybe even grandma, or a babysitter) use the carrier as well? The answers won't leave you with one definite answer but they'll give you somewhere to start.

First off though, what makes a carrier a "good" carrier? Baby should be in a position similar to how you'd carry him. Naturally a baby will bring his knees up and be in a seated position with their knees at or above their butt. The International Hip Dysplasia Institute has a good image showing this. Their back should be curved in a natural position without being slouched over. He should be facing in to put him in a good seated position, keep his weight distributed properly on your body, and support his head. You should also be able to kiss the top of his head, which keeps him in a safer position and also allows you to monitor him more easily.

If you think of how you'd rather be, it's obvious that the seated position is much more comfortable than being suspended by your crotch. Right?! I think so!


So what types of good carriers are out there?
Ring Sling: Maya Wrap, Lightly Padded Shoulder in Olive Green
Ring Slings: These wrap around your body and over one shoulder creating a spot for the baby in front or on the wearer's hip, they have a set of two rings that rest just under the shoulder that adjust the size. They are still sized but the tail will just be longer for the smaller parent. Ring slings can be used from newborn up to toddler but can get heavy since the weight is just on one shoulder. They are handy though for a quick trip in the store. I used a ring sling with both boys when they were really light but once they got a bit bigger it was uncomfortable with that much weight on one shoulder.

Soft Structured Carrier: ERGObaby Original in Galaxy Grey
Soft Structured Carriers: These are usually very easy to use, a buckle for the waist, shoulder straps, and a chest buckle. SSC's aren't sized so the same carrier can be used by many people. Also, they can be used from birth up until 30-40lbs depending on the brand of carrier you buy. The weight of the baby is supported on both the wearer's hips and shoulders which spreads out weight a bit better than a sling. Baby can be worn on the front, back, or hip depending on the brand of carrier. They're very quick to put on which is especially nice when you have a fussy baby. This is Aaron's favorite carrier.

Woven Wrap: Didymos Silver Waves, length 4.2 meters
Wraps: There are two types of wraps; stretchy wraps and woven wraps. A wrap is a long piece of fabric that is tied around the body using different techniques to secure the baby. Stretchy wraps, like Mobys, can be used for newborns and small babies. Due to their stretch, they can only be worn on the front since larger babies can tip back and fall. Woven wraps can be used from newborn to preschooler on the front, back, or hip. The same wrap can be used by many sizes of people although they may not be able to use the same technique or might end up with longer tails depending on how they do the tie. Wraps are overwhelming to some people just because there's so much fabric and take some practice to get a good tie and be confident that baby is secure. But many people love wraps because the weight is dispersed on the entire torso and they are so comfy once you get used to wrapping.

These are the three carriers that I have. I bought the ring sling and used it first when both boys were little. Then went to the Ergo and used it for a long time. Now my hips are bothering me while wearing the Ergo so I just bought the woven wrap. I've used it a lot since I got it and I like it so far. It seems like Devon likes it too!


There's no right answer to which carrier is best for you and it may change as you get more comfortable with carriers or as your baby gets heavier. They can be a bit expensive but they're definitely worth it if you use it! I'm happy to answer any questions you have. I'm not an expert but I've tried many different kinds and can point you in the right direction. Happy babywearing!


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Saturday, January 28, 2012

organic farm-fresh food!

Well, the New Year brings many people to eating healthier and exercising and it's no different here. Honestly though, my plan was to wait until it's nice outside and then get outside to ride bikes or walk/run with the kiddos and enjoy exercising outside. But Aaron's plan is to win $500+ at work in a "Biggest Loser" type competition. So he's been running on the treadmill most days and we've been eating much better.

We eat salad many days each week, just a regular salad with green leaf lettuce, eggs, tomato, cucumber, and carrots. Aaron adds salsa instead of salad dressing and I add italian dressing. I also add cheese because I'm from Wisconsin and we add cheese to everything! And sometimes we cook frozen veggies, Tyler's favorite is broccoli. Mainly though, Aaron's watching portion sizes and counting calories. And it's worked for 13+ pounds so far!

So to go along with the eating healthy and exercising trend, we've signed up for a CSA again this year. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Basically we pay an annual membership and we get a weekly share of the agriculture from the farm. We did this in 2010 but last year was busy so we chose not to. We're splitting a share with my sister and her husband since we're not heavy vegetable households and it was a nice amount last time for each couple.

This is our first share from 2010, just our half of the box.
Salad mix, radishes, bok choy, rhubarb, pea tendrils, and an herb pack for us to grow!

The farm we chose is Good Earth Farm and it is located in Oakfield, WI which is about 45 minutes south of us but there are pick up locations around the Fox Valley. Our pick up location is only a few miles from our house and we'll be riding our bikes to pick it up each week. 

I'm excited to have produce that I wouldn't normally buy at the grocery store and I think it forces us to 1) eat better, 2) cook at home, 3) get out on our bikes. The upfront cost seems like a lot but it worked out to roughly $11 per week to split the box. We know where our food is coming from, we support local organic farmers, we eat healthier, and get to try new things. I look forward to the CSA pick up each week!

But until then, I've been tossing around the idea of sharing a recipe with all of you each week. What do you think? Do you need more recipe ideas? Would you ignore it each week because you're not a cook? (If that's you, there's some super easy ones out there that you'd love!) Or would you look forward to trying something new? Tell me what you think!


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Sunday, January 22, 2012

breastfeeding: the early days

When I was pregnant with Tyler I read all kinds of books on breastfeeding. I was sure I was going to nurse the baby. We were given a few bottles and an Avent hand pump since I knew I'd be home with the baby and didn't want to spend the extra money on an electric pump unless I needed it.

Day 0: Tyler was born at around 9pm and within an hour I had him latched on and he was nursing just fine. It felt uncomfortable but I was told by the nurses that his latch looked good.

Day 1: The nurses actually watched me latch Tyler a total of two times while we were in the hospital, once for the first feeding and once on Day 1. I was told again that the latch was good and that it just took some time to get used to it.

Day 2: We packed up and left the hospital. Nursing was still uncomfortable but bearable and I thought that once I got the hang of it we'd be okay.

Day 3: This was the day it all went downhill. My milk came in so it was more difficult to get a proper latch with overfull breasts. I had cracked and bleeding nipples by this time because even though we thought the latch was good it must not have been. I continued to nurse through the pain but by the end of that day I was in tears each time I nursed (every 1 1/2 - 2 hours at this point). I was so disappointed that something so natural could be so difficult.

I used the hand pump that I had but the milk was pink from blood in it and it was still painful. I didn't want to give Tyler that milk so we ended up giving him a 2 oz bottle of formula. (Later I found out that it would've been fine to give him that milk.) I continued to use the hand pump to give myself time to heal and we were able to feed him pumped milk from then on.

Day 4: I got a check up call from the hospital lactation services and told them how it was going. They suggested getting a double electric pump and exclusively pumping for 24-48 hours to allow my nipples to heal and then to make an appointment with a lactation consultant in a couple days. We were moving so I couldn't make an appointment right away. So I got on the phone and called the only person I knew that had nursed/was nursing a baby and she brought me an electric pump.

Day 5: Each time Tyler was hungry I pumped and then fed him a bottle. It was exhausting! But I knew that I wanted to provide breast milk for my baby so that's what I did.

Day 6: This was the day we packed up from Madison and moved to the Fox Cities. Crazy! Who moves with a newborn?! While Aaron was packing and loading boxes I sat in the only chair left in the apartment and pumped milk for the little guy.

7/13/09: Moving-in Day:
Day 7: Still moving, my rocking chair got unpacked first and I found a room of the house to pump in. I was still in pain when I pumped but it was much more manageable. I knew I couldn't do it forever though, the middle of the night feedings were so difficult. Tyler would cry, I'd have to go and heat up milk with a crying baby, fed him the milk (sometimes Aaron would feed him), and then I'd still have to go and pump before going back to sleep myself.

Day 8: I started to nurse him again for some feedings but wasn't at all confident in his latch.

Day 9: I brought Tyler to a breastfeeding group at Mom and Pop Place where I got some great help from a La Leche Leader. She showed me some techniques on getting him in the right position, and what a proper latch was. I still had some pain but it was noticeably better when he was latched properly.

For the next days and weeks I continued to nurse when I could and pump if it was very painful. I was just happy to be able to be feeding him exclusively breast milk.  I made an appointment with a lactation consultant because it didn't seem like the pain was ever going to go away and she gave me some great tips as well.

I don't remember exactly what made nursing stop hurting, maybe it was Tyler and I learning how to get a good latch, maybe just getting a bigger, stronger mouth helped, or maybe it was something the La Leche Leader or the Lactation Consultant said. At around 2 months I was finally able to drop all of the pumping sessions and nurse Tyler at all feedings.

In contrast, when Devon was born he nursed right away with a perfect latch. No pain, no pumping, more sleep for everyone! I knew what a good latch felt and looked like and was so happy to avoid the pumping this time around.

Tyler's first eight weeks were very difficult but I'm happy I was able to provide the best nutrition I could for both of my kiddos. There have been other hurdles along the way but none as bad as those first weeks.

Both kids were breastfed exclusively (except for those 2oz of formula that Tyler had) until about 6-7 months. With Devon we're introducing solids now (he's 8 1/2 months) but he's primarily breastfed. And Tyler eats a normal toddler diet minus cow's milk (more on that later) plus he's nursed at night (also more on that later).

Have you breastfed your children? How did the first feeding and first few days go? Who did you turn to if you needed help? Did you meet your breastfeeding goals? My goals keep changing but right now I don't really have a set end time, I'm not sure if I will wean Tyler or if he will wean himself but I'm okay with that.



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Saturday, January 21, 2012

giveaway winner announced!

Thanks to everyone who entered to win the Daisy Pedals Chico bag! I've selected a winner using www.random.org.

Congratulations Julie! Just drop me an email (ashley@daisypedals.com) with your address and I'll mail out your new Chico bag on Monday!



For those of you who didn't win a bag, you can still get your hands on one! They're now available for sale for $15 with free shipping! Just click the "Buy Now" button in the side-bar on the right to order securely through PayPal.

Even if you don't buy a Daisy Pedals Chico bag I hope you've considered using reusable bags. According to CleanAir.org, Americans use about 1 billion shopping bags each year! Wow! It takes a while to develop a routine of grabbing your bags before you go into the store but it's something easy we can all do!


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Sunday, January 15, 2012

baby signing

Do you wish your baby could communicate more with you other than crying and smiling? We did some signing with Tyler and I think it helped him let us know his needs rather than just crying until we guessed the right thing.

When Tyler was a baby we bought some flashcards with a selection of baby signs and I chose which were most important to us and started with those. There's no magic list or order but we just went with ones that seemed like they'd be most helpful to us.

With both boys we started off with signing "milk", I'd show him the sign while saying "milk", then move his hand so that he was doing the sign then I'd nurse him. (You can also use the same sign when you're feeding the baby a bottle of formula or breastmilk.) I'd do that routine most times when I fed him during the days and soon he was doing the sign himself when he was hungry.

The next one I worked on was "all done" we did this once we were feeding food so that they could tell us they were full and had finished eating. This gives the baby more control over their appetite instead of just feeding until the baby food jar is empty.

Once they got those two and were eating more table foods we introduced a few more: "eat", "more" and "drink". We worked on only one or two for a week or so and then would introduce a new one, making sure to continue using the ones that we had just learned.

After we worked on those for a while I worked on the next set: "help", "diaper change", "please" and "thank you". With this selection of words Tyler could talk to me to tell me what he needed. And in the last 6-9 months we've continued to work with Tyler, adding "yes" and "no" so that when he's really upset he can at least answer easy questions. It really helps me to be able to communicate with him when he's in one of those "terrible two" moments. And he also signs "I love you", that's just plain cute!

We got Tyler to do a little movie to show some of the signs. Keep in mind these are toddler signs, just like toddler's words they are easy for parents to understand but might be difficult for others to understand.


If you're looking for a good place to find baby signs here's a Baby Sign Language Dictionary. When you click on a word there's a description of the sign and what it's used for, a drawing of the motion, and a video showing an adult doing the sign. This link is also on my resources page if you need to find it another day.

Have you heard of people using signs for babies and toddlers? Have you used or do you plan on using signs with your baby? I think they're very useful, even just the few that we know!



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Saturday, January 14, 2012

use less, have less, want less + the first daisy pedals giveaway!

***This giveaway is no longer accepting entries.***

I'm a little late on the New Year's resolution thing but I'm not usually the yearly resolution type anyway. I don't want to look at these as resolutions for the year, but as a change of ways. Not just yearly resolutions but real lifetime changes.

So here's what I came up with; Use Less, Have Less, Want Less.

Use Less: 
•Water: I'll work to take shorter showers. I'm not able to take long showers anyway since I'm home by myself with the kids but at a few gallons of water used per minute, each minute shorter can save a lot. Also, the kiddos sometimes shower with me or hop in the bath together. It saves us time and water!
•Energy: We keep the heat quite low during the winter, 65° during the day and 62° at night but I think I'm going to turn down the night setting to 60° since we're all snuggled into one bed and stay plenty warm together. Also, we're pretty bad about leaving lights on around the house and I really want to try to pay more attention to that.
•Money: I'm the money person in our family but that doesn't mean much more than making sure the bills are paid. I want to make a proper budget and then follow it. I have no idea where to start but I feel like we should at least track our spending better to know exactly where our money goes and then save where we can.
•Stuff: We really don't need much but we have plenty. There's a lot we can do without and we'll continue to work on finding that comfortable place between what we need and what we think we need.

Have Less:
•De-clutter: We have lots of storage in our basement and it all needs to be gone through. The office/sewing room closet is packed with things to be filed, fabric scraps, photo supplies, etc. And the kitchen counter is a dumping ground for mail, bills, electronics, fruit, pens; it's a mess.
•Organize: Some of those things will just need a better organizational system. Totes, baskets, folders, etc.
•Donate: Things will get tossed into a donate box and they'll either go to Goodwill or to someone we know who can use them. No need to hold onto things that aren't being used.

Want Less:
•Buy less: It always seems like we're heading to the store for something. A cleaning product, something for the kids, groceries, etc. One thing I'm going to do to buy less is make more. I'll use up what cleaning products we have but I'm going to make more of them from castile soap, vinegar, baking soda, etc. Also, I'm working on knitting a hat for Tyler so we won't have to buy him a new one. I'll continue to make other household things like curtains, pillow cases, laundry soap, and supper (that last one was from Aaron).
•Get used to resisting: Sometimes we think we need things that we really don't. We need to train ourselves to be without things. We don't need cable. We don't need a second car (yet). We don't need lots of fancy toys for the kids.

So I want you to use less also. Actually use fewer. Use fewer plastic bags by using re-usable shopping bags!




I'm giving away one Daisy Pedals Chico Bag to one lucky reader! 
To Enter: Make sure to like Daisy Pedals on Facebook AND Comment below and let me know what your resolutions for 2012 are. How do you plan to stick to them? How did you do on your resolutions for 2011?
Deadline for Entry: Make sure to enter before Friday, January 20th at noon.
How it works: I'll use random.org to pick a winner and announce who it is on the Saturday, January 21st post. One entry per person please.

Good luck!



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Sunday, January 8, 2012

starting solid foods with your baby

It's a touchy topic from the start: what and when to feed your baby. It starts with breastmilk or formula and then before you know it someone asks, "have you started solid foods yet?"

With both Devon and Tyler we started solids late, around 6 or 7 months. There are many reasons that you'd start cereal or solid food earlier but our boys were gaining weight well and were nursing like champs! For breastfed babies there's no real need for any supplements for nutrition until around one year old; "under one is just for fun". But it's good to introduce what healthy food taste like, practice eating finger foods, spoon feeding, and introduce some table manners.

Here's what we did with both Devon and Tyler:

Delay solids: Wait to introduce solid food until baby is over 6 months old.

Skip the cereal: I never felt like there was a good reason to give the boys rice cereal. They were growing well so didn't need additional calories and I wanted to introduce real foods first so their first tastes were healthy foods versus carbs.

Share some of your meal: I try to give the boys some of what we're eating. Tyler now eats everything we do. Some things he'll try and doesn't like but he's doing really well about trying everything. For Devon I try to give him small mashed up pieces of foods that we're eating (bananas, potato, avocado, etc) or one big piece that he can chomp on but is big enough that he won't choke (he loves apples!). We also have a little net thing that we put food in that might be a choking hazard but the net contains it so Devon can still chomp on it and get the flavors and some nutrients.
Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder
Let baby take the lead: We gave a bite or two here or there at 6 months and if they weren't interested we waited a few weeks and tried again. When spoon feeding we wait for Devon to open his mouth and move toward the spoon. When he seems like he's had enough we stop. It usually takes two days to finish one jar of baby food.

Make them part of the family meal: This one is big for us. We eat together for every dinner and most lunches as a family. Aaron is lucky enough to be close to work so can come home and eat with us. Devon sits in a booster chair up at the table and eats his Puffs or "surfboards" (Baby Mum-Mums, in photo below) or whatever we're eating!

Variety of foods but no meat in a jar: I just can't get over meat or entire meals in a jar so we never gave that to the kids. Fresh fruits and veggies, a few jars to learn spoon feeding, and some finger foods to learn self-feeding. 

A selection of foods we have for Devon (8 months old)
I'll probably make some purees along the way, I only did a few for Tyler though since we were giving him so much table food. When I made a puree, I'd put it into ice cube trays and into the freezer. Once they were frozen I put the cubes into a freezer container and then could take out one little portion to reheat whenever we needed it. It was much easier than pureeing for each meal or trying to feed it to him before it went bad. 

If you're looking for purees to do for your baby check out weelicious.com. She has recipes for all kinds of baby and toddler foods that are full of flavor and the little ones love!

When did you introduce solids with your child(ren)? What was baby's first food? Tyler's was avocado and Devon's was unsweetened applesauce. 


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Saturday, January 7, 2012

quilt making

I'm usually the type of person who likes to start a project and see it finished in a short period of time. That's not to say I don't work for many hours on a project, I just like to get into it and work on it until it's finished. The fewer days from start to finish the better. But that doesn't work as well as it did before I had the kiddos.

Finding an hour to work on a project is practically a miracle, I usually get 10 to 15 minutes at a time which makes it difficult to get projects done. Now that I've set up our office as an office/sewing room I get to leave a project out, so if I go in to work on something I get 15 minutes to actually get something done instead of 5 minutes set up, 5 minutes to work, then rush to get it put away before a kiddo needs something.

Quilting stuff in the sewing room/office, all out and ready to go!

When Tyler was just a few months old I started a twin sized quilt for him knowing it'd take me a while to get it done. So now I'm hoping to transition him to his own bed in the next while so I need to get a quilt done for him. Also, we'd need to buy a bed, mattress, sheets, etc so I figure I have a little time to work on it.

I chose colors that would grow with him knowing I won't have time to make another one for him anytime soon! I forgot to take pictures in the beginning but I started with long strips of fabric then sewed one of each color together so I had one long strip of black, green, white together. Then cut out the small squares shown below.

Small fabric squares ready for re-assembly

What's next is piecing the two small squares together to get a larger rectangle. I'm about one-third of the way done with this step. Here's my pile of finished rectangles. Once I'm all finished I'll iron them all and then join two rectangles into my quilt squares.

Stack of small quilt pieces
Here's a photo of one quilt square. I'm really excited to see it finished but there's so much to do still!
A peek at what one quilt square will look like
So once all of the little squares are pieced into big squares, I'll have 20 quilt squares and will start to put those together. Then a couple borders and the final quilting!

Why is it that buying so many pieces of fabric, cutting them into smaller pieces and then sewing them back together into one big piece is so much fun?! Anyone else ever make quilts? What projects are you working on right now or did you take a break after the holidays? Any sewing? crafting? cleaning? organizing? What's keeping you busy since we don't have any snow to shovel?!


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Sunday, January 1, 2012

happy new year!


Hope you all had a great New Year's Eve celebration! Welcome to 2012!

First we have this month's desktop calendar for download:
Click image to enlarge, then right-click and save-as. You know the drill.

And then a look into the upcoming year…
•Sewing/knitting projects
•Signing with babies/toddlers
•Toddler activities
•Biking with the kiddos
•Baby's first foods
…and lots more!

We're also planning on some making some videos and even a giveaway or two! What else should I add to the list? Any requests? 2012 will be an exciting year for the blog and I hope you'll be along for the ride!


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